Carrying out the different processes involved in agricultural activities implies the consideration of several factors that will directly, and indirectly, influence the results obtained in the harvest. While agriculture is based on procedures and plans designed to make the most of the resources provided by nature in order to obtain quality products for both farmers and consumers, it is necessary to have a pest control management plan for the growing season.
In a previous article we mentioned the importance of the planning involved in apple and pear cultivation, and here we will cover some details about the pest control management plan that it is usually recommended to be generally implemented in order to get the most out of the growing season.
These recommendations may vary depending on the type of land and possible weather and environmental scenarios that may arise during the planting and harvesting of products, so having contingency plans may be useful.
Steps to be followed for pest control management plan
According to an interesting study made by the Australian Government entitled Integrated Pest Management, one of the first steps to take is to create a registry of current and previous seasons as a way to have a pest management plan as complete and detailed as possible.
Once the land has been chosen, it is important to try to minimize the pesticides that were used, with the intention of implementing a much less polluting pest control management plan that is still effective.
When you decide to apply gradually an integrated pest management plan, while you reduce the amount of pesticide sprays, you get better results than if you do it at once, and it also means a smaller possibility of attracting more pests and losing capital. Only in some areas with high pest pressure, chemical control may be necessary. However, to decide whether insecticides are necessary, you should consider the following:
- The compound of the plague that is causing the damage
- Crop stage
- Environmental conditions of the area
- Pressure exerted by the plague.
Potential threats to pest control
Within a pest control management plan, one factor that should not be overlooked is knowing which pests can create problems. An option is making a list that specifies the types of pests that have affected the land or soil during recent seasons, so that pests that have not emerged in quite some time can be dismissed; that way you can focus on those that have caused financial losses in recent years. Pests will be different in each orchard and depending on weather conditions.
Legal resources related to pesticide use
In some countries such as Australia, there are regulations that include the obligation of individuals who use pesticides for occupational or commercial purposes on their land to keep a detailed record of the pesticides they use and the frequency of use, as well as many quality control assurance schemes also specifies pest management information that needs to be recorded.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating the use of pesticides nationwide, including in the agricultural sector, to protect endangered species, pollinators and report incidents related to pesticide use, among others.
As an additional resource, at the webpage of the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) you can find more information about How can you protect pollinators when using pesticides?).
In the case of Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has numerous programs to support farmers regarding pesticide use.
It is worth mentioning that you will contribute to improve your pest control management plan by recording and updating data on a regular basis, and at the same time you will create new proposals to solve or manage certain failures that arise along the way.
Within the pest management plan, it is necessary to make another follow-up log to keep the data up to date and keep track of the threats typical of the land:
- Name of pests. Keep a list of the names of the most common pests -and the ones that are less familiar- is essential to know how to control them.
- Register the date and location where pests appeared the first time. A comparison must be made with the data registered in previous seasons to specify whether pests appear before or after the planting and harvest season.
- Location. It is ideal to have a detailed map of the land to identify where the different pests have appeared, which would prevent mistakes that could harm sampling and help make corrective decisions.
- Effects. This is crucial data to be registered for the pest management plan since it specifies the severity of the damage caused. When this information is combined with the record of dates when pest have appeared, producers are more likely to identify the severity level of the effect of pests. Changes in the climate that affect these results can also be measured.
- Produce rejected. Sometimes diseases arise long after harvest, so infections that occur in the field may not appear until the produce is harvested. At this point, it is ideal to keep track of the amount of fruit that is rejected or degraded in the shed area, in storage or in the sorting and packaging line, along with the reasons for the rejection.
When you are in the business of fresh produce cultivation, it is necessary to be able to make decisions that allow you to manage pests in an appropriate way, decisions that are beneficial not only to the crop but to the owners, especially if they are able to balance the economic investment associated with pest management with the economic benefits.